Feb. 16, 2000

Not Only the Eskimos

by Lisel Mueller

Broadcast Date: WEDNESDAY: February 16, 2000

Poem: "Not Only The Eskimos" by Liesel Mueller, from Alive Together (Louisiana State University Press).

On this day in 1959, the guerrilla leader Fidel Castro took over as the Prime Minister of Cuba. The son of a wealthy sugar cane farmer, Castro had practiced law in Havana, but then, disgusted with the status quo, entered politics as a member of the Cuban Peopleís Party. After ousting dictator Fulgencio Batista [fool-HEN-syoh bah-TEE-stah], Castro invited the wrath of the United States by nationalizing all the sugar plantations—many had absentee landlords in the U.S.A.

Itís the birthday of novelist Richard Ford, born in Jackson, Mississippi (1944). His first novel, A Piece of My Heart (1976) follows the journeys of two men to their southern homes. In the early 1980s Ford took a break from writing fiction to work as a journalist for Inside Sports, an experience that shaped his novel The Sportswriter (1986), and its Pulitzer Prize-winning sequel, Independence Day (1995).

On this day in 1923, British archeologist Howard Carter, with British antiquarian George Herbert (also known as Lord Carnarvon), uncovered King Tutís Tomb. Once inside the pharaohís burial chamber, they found heaps of jewels, four golden-detailed chariots, and ornaments of ivory, ebony and other precious metals, most of which went to the Cairo Museum.

Itís the birthday of historian Henry (Brooks) Adams, born in Boston (1838), the great-grandson of President John Adams. He worked as secretary to his congressman father, who served as the American ambassador to Britain during the Civil War. In 1868 he—young Henry—settled in Washington, D.C., and wrote reform-minded essays for The Nation. He wrote a nine-volume History of the United States of America from 1801 to 1817. But his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams (1918), is considered his greatest achievement.

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